Journal Highlights: Roads I Have Traveled ... Excerpt #4 from March, 1995

Israel: March, 1995, (continued): About midway between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem was an Israeli Armored Corps museum. Shaul, having spent over thirty years in the national army or reserves, insisted that we visit the museum. Actually, it was extremely interesting. They had collected an example of almost all of the different types of armored tanks that they had used defensively or that had been used against them in war. They started out with samples of the war chariots of Joshua and the kings of Judah, the chariots of the Egyptian pharaohs, and the chariots of the Romans. Then, in the historic progression, they had displayed a working model of Leonardo da Vinci’s tank plans designed over five hundred years ago. Physically lined up in rows were over 120 actual armored tanks, including the French Hotchkiss, the US Sherman tank, the Russian T-72 battle tank, and the highest-tech tank of all, the Israeli Merkava tank, affectionately called the Israeli Chariot tank. Other tanks came from Jordan, Egypt, Syria, Italy, and various allied forces. 

In a display fashioned much like the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C., the Israelis had listed all the armored tank personnel who had been killed in battles. The time was well spent as an educational aid to better understand Israel’s war history, especially since 1948. 

Another display that was designed to help the world better understand Israel and keep from forgetting Israel’s struggles was the Holocaust History Museum, located just outside Jerusalem. We spent the next two and a half hours visiting that facility. They had done such a great job of documenting the atrocities of the Holocaust that it really was a physically draining experience as we went through the facility. It documented the sequence of events beginning about 1931. I won’t try to describe here the events or my emotions in reaction to the displays, except to say that the memorial certainly underscored the extremes to which any civilization could go when it runs amuck of God’s eternal plan for humanity. What a frightening shame! 

Even though our appetites were not exactly stimulated following the visit to the Holocaust museum, we did go to lunch. Shaul knew of a quaint Jewish restaurant in Jerusalem that served us a very delightful lunch. 

Next on the agenda was a list of sites we had reviewed at lunch that I told Shaul I would like Jay to see. I absolutely wanted him to see the Mount of Olives, the chapel on the Mount of Olives, the garden of Gethsemane, the different stations on the Via Dolorosa (the “way of suffering”), the Dome of the Rock, the Wailing Wall, Calvary, the tomb, the different gates of Jerusalem, and anything else we could see in Jerusalem while the sun was shining. My report is that we got it all accomplished, plus a little more, but we certainly walked fast, listened quickly, and kept on movin’.  

All day I kicked myself for not taking a professional tour on Monday just for Jay’s sake. Shaul is such an old-line Hebrew that even though he could be credited for being a good sport and taking us to all the Christian spots of meaning and importance, we received no commentary and, in fact, had to search for all the locations because he was so unfamiliar with any of the Christian locations. I really appreciated his desire to help us even though he appeared to be very uncomfortable at some of the strictly Christian memorials. He was, however, very good at filling us in about Israel’s history from 1948 on. We never could have gotten the perspective any other way on the details of the 1967 war except from a commander who led his troops in through the gates to free Jerusalem. 

March 22 is my birthday. Birthdays ought to be a little laid back. At breakfast Jay took my napkin and designed a birthday card for me incorporating the Grand Beach Hotel, Tel Aviv, Israel, logo into his card. He told me that he had waited nine years to be able to hand-design a birthday card and present it to me while we were in a foreign country. 

He reminded me that I had taken him with me to London, where we were robbed of our passports, train tickets, airline tickets, credit cards, all our money, all our identification, all our everything, and we were left to our creativity and God’s grace to find our way back home. Actually, it was quite fortunate that we were not killed during the incident. But there we were in that stranded predicament … and it was Jay’s twentieth birthday. I could not even buy him a birthday card, so I took a paper napkin and designed a birthday card, told him what a great son he was, and wished him future happiness. 

This time we were together not in London but in Tel Aviv, and it was my turn to receive the napkin birthday card. We laughed and reminisced and thanked God for all his traveling mercies. 

At 10:00 a.m., Shaul arrived at the hotel. Today was to be our last day of scheduled meetings with health-care people and hospital administrators. At the hospital we toured the comprehensive Pediatric Services Building. Assaf Harofeh Medical Center provides a very unique program of medicine, special education, and rehabilitation for children with developmental problems and cerebral palsy. I was very impressed with the dedication and qualifications of the staff people. They are doing such a great job even though they are horribly overloaded with children and the facilities are housed in old buildings and are physically quite inadequate. 

Next we assessed the hematology and oncology units that were housed in a separate multistory building and appeared to be less than ten years old. In our opinion, that department is doing quite well right now. Just down the road was the building that houses the emergency department. Approximately 116,000 patients were treated in that facility in 1994 alone. It needed help. It was probably the most overworked department we assessed, next to the laboratory department. 

The intensive care unit was the last department we visited. It was housed in the large hospital center and was one of the finest I had visited. 

With our Needs Assessment Study completed, it was time for our luncheon meeting at the director’s office. The meeting included Shaul, Jay, me, Dr. Yigal Halperin, and Dr. Mordechai Waron, the hospital’s director. Dr. Mordechai Waron has served at the hospital for nearly thirty-five years. He was the doctor who had taken over the military facility from the British and started the fourteen-bed hospital in an open army barracks building. The hospital today stands as a great testimony to the dedication and drive of Dr. Waron. 

The meeting had some interesting twists. Where some of the middle-management people had been concerned about the age of equipment, expiration dates, and so forth, Dr. Waron brushed all that aside, and for about one hour pleaded with us to help him. 

I began to see why the hospital had made such strides in the allotted time. He really has a passion for the mission of the hospital. He explained the precarious situation of the national health-care system that had absorbed over 750,000 Russian immigrants just since 1991. He talked about needing over two million dollars this year to maintain equipment status quo with the growth and patient overload and only $100,000 to cover the need. Dr. Waron was a great presenter of the big picture, and when we finished I could not help but feel compelled to come alongside his hospital and help him and our wonderful Israeli friends!

© Dr. James W. Jackson  

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